New York Governor Cuomo recently lambasted the Teachers’ Unions. This is a bit shocking, since he’s a died-in-the-wool Democrat, and not the only one.
Cuomo said he openly disagreed with a teacher union member who said he represents the students.
“No, you don’t,” Cuomo said he told the person. “You represent the teachers. Teacher salaries, teacher pensions, teacher tenure, teacher vacation rights. I respect that. But don’t say you represent the students.”
One wonders why it took so long for politicians to state so obvious a truth. The unions are paid by their members, not by the students. The more powerful the unions become, the more insulated from concerns about parents and students, the more they advocate for the interests of teachers. This should not be considered controversial at all. It is human nature.
Gov. Cuomo also remarked: “This was never a teacher employment program and this was never an industry to hire superintendents and teachers.”
“This was a program to educate kids.” …
Sorry, Cuomo, but a bit of Public Choice Economics and a bit of history will tell you otherwise. Making education mandatory – which began in the 1840s or so – was not about the kids. It was about making sure that there were jobs for teachers, and that the kids were fed the mandatory agenda – pro Protestant, anti-Papacy, and all sorts of other “civic virtues.” The kids were not paying customers, but subjects to be molded to the purposes of others. This is explicit in the writings of many of the reformers who promoted these changes.
What happened, that Cuomo and other prominent Democrats are now taking on the powerful Teachers’ unions? Two things. One, the entire edifice is now crumbling under the weight of so many conflicting political influences. Two, deeply dissatisfied parents now outnumber teachers, and are organizing to “Do Something About It.” This pressure has been building up for at least a generation, and gets more intense because a) the problems are getting worse, and b) the cost of organizing large groups of people has gone down, largely thanks to the internet.
Lastly, although many faux “libertarians” advocate “school choice,” this author remains adamantly convinced that such programs are merely an ineffective palliative for a dying institution.